Oak Ridge Boys perform in area this weekend, talk about popularity of ‘Elvira’

MIDDLETOWN — The legendary Oak Ridge Boys band is taking the Sorg stage in Middletown soon.

The group’s history dates back to the 1940s when the quartet was formed in Oak Ridge Tennessee as the Oak Ridge Quartet. In 1962, the quartet became The Oak Ridge Boys. The group has remained on the road touring, and busy recording in the studio. In the summer of 2021, The Oak Ridge Boys released “Front Porch Singin’.”

The group’s current line-up produced hits such as “Elvira,” “Bobbie Sue,” “Dream On” and “American Made.” The quartet, comprised of Duane Allen, Joe Bonsall, William Lee Golden and Richard Sterban will return at 8 p.m. Friday to the Sorg stage in Middletown.

The Journal-News spoke with Sterban in a recent phone interview to find out more about the group’s longstanding history and success as a country and gospel mainstay as well as what fans can expect from the upcoming performance.

The concert will feature a mix of classic country, gospel and patriotic songs. Reserved seats are $70 in advance, premium seating is $85 in advance and super premium seating is $100 in advance. Box seats may be purchased for $85 each (purchasers must buy all four seats in a box) For more information, or to purchase tickets, go to https://www.cincyticket.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=6222. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Question: What are you most looking forward to about making a stop in Middletown?

Richard Sterban: Well, let me speak for all The Oak Ridge Boys, and let me tell you, we love doing what we do. During the pandemic, what we do for a living was taken away from us for well over a year. We could not get on stage and perform like we love doing, and that was taken away from us, and more so than the actual performing, what we missed was the feedback that we get from our fans. That’s something that we live for. So, I can speak for all The Oak Ridge Boys and tell you we are looking forward to coming your way, because we’ve been in your area many times, and we know we have a lot of friends and a lot of fans in your part of the country.

We are anticipating the way they are going to treat us, and the feeling we’re going to get from them, and it’s something that we look forward to. I can speak for all of the guys and tell you we are looking forward to coming your way. We’re going to do our best to make it a great night and we plan to have a great time, so we want to encourage as many people as possible to come on out, spend some time with The Oak Ridge Boys, and let’s celebrate together. Let’s have a big time together.

Q: Other than the show itself, what are some of the ways you’ve been able to connect with fans?

A: What we have tried to do over the years is we’ve tried to find material with great lyrics, material that says something that is very important. We try to find songs that are inspirational in nature, and we try to find songs that give people hope to get through difficult times in their lives, and we hope that is the case. Along with entertaining people, and having a lot of fun on stage, we want to be remembered as a group that actually helps people with our music, and we feel like we’ve been able to do that. In this day of social media, we get a lot of instant feedback from our fans, and we know that our music has helped people get through difficult times in their lives, and that is one of our goals in life is to try to help people with our music.

We are so thankful, we hear from people, and that has worked. So, that is the case when we come your way again, that not only will we entertain people, and that’s important too. No doubt about it, we want to give people their money’s worth, but we also want to help people with our music, and we sure hope that will be the case.

Q: You perform such a great catalog of songs, from gospel and country to patriotic songs, and a song like “Elvira” is such a signature song for the group. Can you talk about what “Elvira” has meant to you?

A: We’ve been very fortunate. As you say, we’ve had many hits over the course of the years. Ron Chancey was our producer. He produced a lot of the number one records for The Oak Ridge Boys, but he produced “Elvira,” and I will never forget the day we were in his office listening to songs for an upcoming album we were getting ready to record and he said, ‘fellas, I have something I want to play for you guys,’ and he played Dallas Frazier’s version of ‘Elvira.’ Dallas Frazier is the gentleman who wrote the song. He was a neighbor of ours for many years, from the next town over in Gallatin, Tennessee.

I will never forget when we heard ‘Elvira.’ We all sat up, and we looked at each other, and we said, ‘Wow, I think this is the song that we have been looking for.’ And, sure enough, I’ll never forget, a few days later, we actually went into the studio and we recorded ‘Elvira.’ I’ll never forget the feeling we had in the studio that day. The song felt like it was going to be a hit. It felt like it was going to be a special song. I’ll never forget the look on all the musician’s faces.’ Everybody was smiling, having a great time, and the song went down very easily. It went down in just a couple of takes, and I think we realized we had something special on our hands. I don’t think we realized how special it was, however, until the first time we recorded the song in person. We were in Spokane, Washington, of all places, and we decided to try it out right in the middle of the show, and I’ll never forget the response that we got from that song. That was the day we really truly realized we had something special on our hands. We did ‘Elvira’ and people went crazy in the audience. They kept going on, and the applause would not quit, so, we had to encore the song two or three times right in the middle of the show, because we had such a great response.

We added the song at the end, and we had to encore it again at the end of the show, and for the rest of that West Coast trip, we had a very similar response. So, we called our record label and said, ‘We’ve got to get this thing out, we have something special on our hands.’ So, sure enough, in 1981, we released ‘Elvira’ and it became one of the biggest records, and not just in country music, but in the total music industry, and it became our signature song.

More online

See more of this interview at journal-news.com.

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